Here we are once again with the middleweight division’s number one contender spot up for grabs, well in most people’s eyes anyway. Everyone seems to have their definitive number one contender but it seems to change with each event. In this article we will lay down who are the top names in the division and give some points on why they may or may not get a shot at Anderson Silva and the twelve pounds of gold he wears around his waist.
Below in no specific order, you’ll find the list of top fighters in the middleweight division and a breakdown of their latest fights, combined records and finishes to see who really deserves the next crack and amount of fight I believe is needed to Get To The Champ (GTTC).
Chael Sonnen: Well since he has made the move to light heavyweight, he doesn’t really count. Next!
Vitor Belfort: Another fighter who is at light heavyweight, at least for now. Belfort is starting to worry about weight cuts, so it’s logical for him to stay, but he may want to try to get his hands on Silva before it’s too late. He is 2-1 in his last three, both wins were finishes. If Belfort moves back down, his GTTC is TWO. That would give him four straight wins in the division and his next two fights would be against the top-tier, so it works.
Brian Stann: Stann is 2-2 in his last four, with two huge finishes. Stann has a ton of power, Bisping found that out this past weekend, and a big heart, but he has zero TD defense. Can a fighter really win gold without being able to stop a take down? That alone will put Stann at a GTTC of THREE fights, one of them would have to include a wrestler.
Rousimar Palhares: or Paul Harris as so many like to call him, is 3-1 in his last four fights, with two submission wins. His one loss came to Alan Belcher, who pretty much owned him on the ground. Palhares GTTC score would have to be TWO, well THREE, but he is scheduled to face Hector Lombard in December. A dominant win over Lombard might even bump his score done to ONE.
Hector Lombard: After a long, long, LONG wait, Lombard finally got his chance to shine in the UFC, but like so many others he laid a big egg. Could it have been the first time jitters, his injury, or could it be he isn’t as good as advertised? Probably a little bit of the first two. He has another big test in Palhares, and with a win his GTTC would be at TWO.
Mark Munoz: The UFC has had a touch of the injury bug going around, and no one has been hit more by it than Munoz. Early this year he injured his shoulder, then recently he messed up his foot. With no specific return, Munoz won’t be in the title talks for a while. Even if you don’t count the butt whopping he took by the hands of Chris Weidman, his GTTC number would have to be at least THREE, unless the first fight he gets on comeback is a top fighter.
Tim Boetsch: Tim is 4-0 since his move down to the middleweight division. In those four wins he only has one finish, but he did control his opponents through most of the fights. Boetsch does have a very tough fight coming up, in Chris Weidman and if he can get past him, his GTTC number is only ONE, or ZERO even if he can get a finish.
Chris Weidman: Weidman is 9-0 overall, and 5-0 in the UFC. With two very impressive wins over Maia and Munoz, Weidman’s number is at ONE. He is fighting Tim Boetsch at UFC 155 and a win should earn him a title shot by spring.
Alan Belcher: Belcher has won six of his last seven fights, his only loss a controversial decision to Yoshihiro Akiyama, and his last four fight have all been finishes. Belcher is fighting Yushin Okami at UFC 155, and with a win his GTTC number will also be at ONE or ZERO.
Michael Bisping: Bisping is 6-1 in his last seven fights, with his only loss a controversial loss to Chael Sonnen. He has more finishes (14) than he does decisions (5), but as of late he is winning by more decisions. After a big win over Brian Stann, Bisping’s GTTC number is ZERO. He should without a doubt be the next to get a crack at Anderson Silva. Silva has a big fight coming up next month, but we could see Bisping/Silva in early 2013.
With a close division like the middleweight division is, it sometimes is a toss-up on who may or may not get the next title shot. Sometimes it matters more on timing than it does wins. Coming off a Bisping should be next, but we will have to wait and see how things play out and what the UFC wants to do.